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Grief: An Undying Love

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It was a scene ripped straight from a nightmare, and Larry Barber was living it.

In May 1993, Barber, his wife Cindy, 37, and their children Katie, 2, Sarah, 9, and Christian, 12, were in a tragic car accident in Arlington, Texas.

The accident left Barber's Ford Escort torn and ripped apart. Barber, who was riding shotgun, would look to his left and notice that driver's seat where his wife was sitting was gone. She was thrown from the car and died two days later from her injuries.

His youngest daughter, Katie, also died, leaving Barber and his two children as the only survivors.

Widowed and single, Barber, now 60, was dealing with a situation that would cause most people to sink into a deep depression.

The grief stricken Barber was devastated, to say the least. He described the incident as his "own personal moment of hell."

"At the time, I didn't know how to deal," he said. "I lost my wife and my daughter. It was a double whammy."

Almost 20 years later he's still grieving -- but not in the way most people might think.

"Sometimes people associate grieving with the painful loss," Barber said. "But as long as you remember the people you lose, you're grieving."

So in reality, the grieving process may never end, he said.

Barber, a former Cleburne, Texas resident and a 1969 Cleburne High School graduate, is broadcast news director turned grief counselor, now helping others manage and understand grief.

"The accident definitely was a big factor in why I decided to go into counseling," Barber said. "I think that my first-hand experiences with loss allows people to relate and listen to me a lot better."

Barber also authored a book titled "Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise."

The book, which came out in July, was written to help mourners, caregivers and helping professionals understand that grief is an expression of love and that there are resources available to handle the loss of a loved one.

"I wrote the book mainly because I know there are others out there like me who need help," he said. "When I first lost my wife and daughter, I initially didn't know where to turn."

In chapter one of his book, Barber said everyone -- friends, family and strangers -- all wanted and tried to offer him advice -- advice Barber didn't know how to use.

"I couldn't decide exactly what I needed," he said in his book. "Everybody knew how to live my life, handle my grief and parent my two children. Everyone knew but me."

Barber turned to The Warm Place, a support center for families, to help his family.

Though the loss of his wife and daughter was the most tragic experience of his life, it wasn't Barber's first encounter with loss.

On April 6, 1967, Larry's father delivered to him news that his best friend, Stanley Johnson, had drowned that afternoon.

Read more here at The Cleburne Times-Review.

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